Launch of the Safe Ride Campaign

Today (17 August 2016), Sonke Gender Justice and the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO), with support from the Danish embassy, launched the Safe Ride campaign, which is aimed at preventing and responding to the abuse of women and girls at the hands of taxi personnel, including drivers and queue marshals.

Horrific incidents of verbal abuse, physical violence, sexual assault and rape of girls and women at the hands of taxi drivers and queue marshals have been recorded in many parts of the country.

“This needs to end. Taxi industry personnel need to be educated about the rights of people and, more especially, they need to be sensitised against perpetrating gender-based violence”, said Nonhlanhla Skosana, Community Education and Mobilisation Acting Manager at Sonke Gender Justice at the launch of the campaign at Bree Street taxi rank in the Johannesburg CBD.

“Indeed our industry’s involvement in ending gender-based violence is crucial. We can’t allow our country to have leading statistics in the rape of women and girls”, agreed Philip Taaibosch, president of the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO).

“We transport about 15 million passengers each day and our responsibility as members of the taxi industry is to ensure that people get to their destinations safely. Every passenger needs to feel safe in our taxis. When I, as a taxi driver see a woman or child being abused by another, I must report it to the police”, Taaibosch added.

In her comments, the Danish ambassador to South Africa, Trine Rask Thygesen, said: “Fighting gender-based violence is a human right and the Safe Ride campaign gives hope that the scourge of gender-based violence in South Africa will be eradicated”.

The Johannesburg launch of the campaign is the beginning of a 12 month-long programme that will criss-cross the country to educate the taxi community about how they can help prevent and stop harassment of and sexual violence against women and children.